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Hello all!


  I'm the group leader organizing a group cruise, aboard the NCL Epic from Port Canaveral in April.  This is the first cruise for many within the group, but especially my family (wife, 2 boys, and I).  


  We're driving down to Port Canaveral the day before (Friday) and grabbing a room at a nearby hotel.  So many questions....


1.  Should the group head over to the cruise port together?

2.  What time should we head over?

3.  Is it easy to reserve a daily dining time for the group at one of the complimentary resteraunts?


  I don't know what I don't know about cruising but my family and I are super excited.  Thanks for any tips, tricks, or other recommendations!

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Good Morning and Welcome to Cruise Critic.

Since most of your questions are more related to NCL, you should post this in the section for that cruise line.

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To reserve a daily dining time, choose a complimentary restaurant and go see the Maitre'd when you board. NCL tends to mainly have small tables, which they push together for large groups.  Therefore, the Maitre'd needs to be forewarned about when your group is going to show up and how many will be there.  However, there are many complimentary restaurants on Epic.  Taste, The Manhattan Room, Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant,  O'Sheehan's, The Garden Cafe (buffet).  Typically guests on NCL eat at a different restaurant every night of their cruise. If you wish to do that, then you will need to go to each restaurant you plan to dine at and let the maitre'd know day of.  Typically there is a night when O'Sheehan's serves Prime Rib - sometimes it is boarding night.  You might check for that if interested. The Manhattan Club is a dinner and show venue (music and dancing) so you should book that ahead via the NCL website.  Each family group should book their reservation for the same time and when you board, go to the Maitre'd of The Manhattan Club and ask him to join up your reservations.  Here's a video about the complimentary restaurants:


I also think you should ask your group if any of them want to do the specialty restaurants that charge extra. They are:

Cagney's (steakhouse)

Le Bistro (French and probably the best of all on the ship)

La Cucina (Italian)

Teppanyaki (Japanese Hibachi - tables seat 12)

Moderno (Churrascaria)

Wasabi Sushi

Cirque Dreams dinner show

If you all DO want to experience any of these restaurants, it is best to make reservations online in advance of your cruise as most of the specialty restaurants sell out for the week by the end of the first day of the cruise.



Edited by SuiteTraveler

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In terms of boarding, it really depends on if you want to have lunch onboard or not.  If you want to have lunch, head over around 11.  If you want to just be able to board and put your stuff in your stateroom and have a late lunch or start exploring the ship, arrive around 1pm but at least 1 hour before sail away time.  In general, we make it a practice to always be onboard by 1:30 - 2pm which is when it is least crowded to board.  Earlier than that and it is a zoo with clogged elevators.  If you don't mind climbing stairs with your carryons and keeping them with you, it's fine to board earlier.  Otherwise, wait until a bit later.

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Be aware that the EPIC boards at 2 locations and that is based on your cabin location.  Not sure if you have a block of rooms together or on different floors so you will need to pay attention to which gate you board at.   Do not board together if some are boarding at C and others at D (or which gates you're assigned)  your key cards will not be available at the wrong gate.

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A large group of people is worse than "herding cats"....let everyone do their own thing, on their own time.  Those who like to "be on time", will blow a fuse waiting on those who have no concept of time.


Tell your group a meet-up  time once on the ship...and be done with it.  Let everyone do what they want, when they want.  Everyone will be happier!


If everyone agrees to do the same thing at the same time....that's fantastic!  But don't try to plan every minute!


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